Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity: Fact or Fiction

sunset pic with the symptoms of electromagnetic hypersensitivity or EHS

Can Your WiFi Really Make You Sick?

Understanding the effects of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) and Radiofrequency Radiation (RF) on Your Health

Our health is directly affected by a variety of things we cannot see but we know to exist. We don’t see the air, but oxygen is essential to human life. We cannot see UV rays, but we can certainly feel their effects when we get a sunburn. While we cannot see electromagnetic radiation (EMR) or electromagnetic fields (EMF), a growing number of people are reporting symptoms that appear to be caused by electrical hypersensitivity (EHS). Much like how pollen doesn’t cause everyone to have allergy symptoms, EMR doesn’t cause everyone to have EHS. And like how some individuals will have intense seasonal allergies while others won’t, some will have severe EHS symptoms, while others won’t. Data suggests that about 3% of the population are sensitive to EMR. What makes these people more sensitive to EMR? That’s a good question.

Over the last 20 years, physicians with the American Academy of Environmental Medicine have been seeing patients whose symptoms appeared to be triggered by “dirty electricity”. The term dirty electricity refers to the electromagnetic energy flowing along a conductor that deviates from a pure 50/60 Hertz sine wave and has both harmonic and transient properties. It is more correctly termed high-frequency voltage transients (HFVT). Electromagnetic radiation may come from power lines, televisions, computers, and other electrical devices. The health impact of dirty electricity was first discovered in the 1950’s. In rural areas, the behaviour and feeding patterns of animals were negatively affected by stray voltage caused by poor grounding and lack of utility infrastructure.

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Symptoms

Humans suffering from EHS might experience symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, chronic fatigue, depression, memory loss and confusion.
Now, more than ever, we are living in a world of luxuries that depend heavily on electricity and have the potential to generate electrical pollutants. We have phones in our pockets, microwaves in our kitchens, and satellite systems in our cars. As science attempts to keep up with the exponential increase in the use of technology, we are only beginning to comprehend the effects that RF waves may have on our health.

What is Radiofrequency Radiation?

The electromagnetic wave spectrum is comprised of two parts: ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation includes X-rays and ultraviolet rays, whereas non-ionizing radiation includes radiofrequency (RF), visible light and microwaves. Radiofrequency radiation is the transfer of energy by radio waves. RF EMR is non-ionising radiation, meaning that it has insufficient energy to break chemical bonds or remove electrons (ionisation). RF EMR lies in the frequency range between 3 kilohertz (kHz) to 300 gigahertz (Ghz). For years we have focused on the negative impact of ionizing radiation, but now we are starting to understand that there may be a negative impact from non-ionizing radiation or radiofrequency.

Radiofrequency waves are what allow you to borrow your neighbour’s WiFi while you’re waiting for the service guy to come. Without the need for wires, RF has the power to pass through walls and go just about anywhere, that includes inside our body. In this digital age, many items that we rely upon can be a source of radiofrequency radiation. Our cell phones might seem obvious, but what about our Smart Meters, our children’s gaming systems, the baby monitor and cordless phones? They all use wireless communication, surrounding us in a constant invisible fog of electrosmog.

What is Electrosmog?

According to NASA: “As you sit watching TV, not only are there visible light waves from the TV striking your eyes, but also radio waves, transmitting from a nearby station, and microwaves carrying cellphone calls and text messages, and waves from your neighbor’s WiFi, and GPS units in the cars driving by. There is a chaos of waves from all across the spectrum passing through your room right now.”

As a society, we are pressured to keep up or fall behind. Have you ever passed the Apple store the day a new iPhone hits the market? So many of us are willing to stand in lengthy lines, just to be early adopters of the latest technology. Our priorities are placed on technology as a way to make our lives better. And no doubt, it does in some ways. However, most of us don’t consider how our attachment to technology also impacts our health by inundating our bodies with a constant barrage of radio frequencies.

Is Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Real?

While EMR and RF radiation is considered biologically safe according to safety data provided by Health Canada and other organizations, the reality is that the level of our constant low-grade exposure is not reflected in their guidelines.

Some scientists have been researching the impacts of electrosmog on our bodies long before our world became so highly digitized. In 1987, one study proved that exposure to electrosmog (at levels considerably lower than those observed in urban areas today) created changes in human brain waves and behaviour. Further to that, EMR may also affect our mitochondria. These are our cellular energy factories. They are fundamental to every energy-dependent process in our body, including the function of our nervous system. As a result, EMR-induced disruption of our mitochondria may effectively bolster neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. As well EMR may be playing a part in other diseases and health issues where mitochondrial dysfunction is implicated. These include psychiatric disorders, autoimmune diseases, headaches and migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, reproductive disorders… the list goes on and on!

So, the question needs asking: If EMR and RF are already having an impact on our health, what are the long-term effects for our children raised in a world choked by electrosmog? Only time will tell.

How to Minimize Your EMR & RF Exposure

While more data is required, the science that’s already in, warrants taking precautionary measures in minimizing EMR exposure, particularly if you are suffering from EHS symptoms.

5 Steps to Protect Yourself from EMF:

  1. Get rid of your cordless phones.
  2. Turn off your WiFi – Internet can be hard wired into your home to prevent WiFi exposure, as can your television “box” and any other things that are wireless and transmitting and receiving signals.
  3. Switch your cell phone to airplane mode or turn it off at night.
  4. EMR-reducing sleep sanctuary or canopies may help block EMR according to renowned doctor Dietrich Klinghardt.
  5. Finally, there is one other thing you can do for EMF protection, and that is to GET OUTSIDE! By simply spending time in nature and grounding yourself so you have direct contact with the earth, you are opening the gateway for an influx of electrons to be absorbed and distributed throughout your body. This transfer of electrons can help to neutralize oxidative stress and minimize any derangements in the electrical activities of your body. So put down your phone and spend time in nature, walking in bare feet. Ever wonder why you come back from vacation feeling so recharged?

If you believe you have symptoms that could be related to electrical hypersensitivity or any other health issues, please book an appointment to visit us at Forces of Nature. We want to help you take control of your health! Call or email us at 416-481-0222 or email Maria@ForcesofNature.ca

To your best health!
The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic
Chiropractic, Naturopathic, Osteopathic, Massage Therapy, Psychotherapy, Acupuncture/TCM/Craniosacral Therapy, Registered Dietitian

References:

https://www.aaemonline.org/EMR_rf_position.php

Leitgeb N, Schröttner J. Electrosensibility and electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Bioelectromagnetics. 2003 Sep;24(6):387-94.

Trevor G. Marshall and Trudy J. Rumann Heil Electrosmog and autoimmune disease. Immunol Res. 2017; 65(1): 129–135. Published online 2016 Jul 13. doi: 10.1007/s12026-016-8825-7 PMCID: PMC5406447 PMID: 27412293

Should you get your thyroid tested?

woman checking her thyroid

How Healthy is Your Thyroid and Why Does it Matter?

Did you know that a tiny, butterfly-shaped gland nestled in your neck is responsible for producing some of the most important hormones in your body? This small but mighty gland is called the thyroid.  While it’s relatively small in size, it plays a huge role in our endocrine (hormone) system.

This gland produces hormones that interact with many other hormones (like insulin, cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone).  Looking at how intimately all hormones communicate with each other, it’s no wonder so many symptoms are connected to a poorly performing thyroid!

How does this gland work?

Most of what the thyroid produces is an inactive hormone called thyroxine, or T4. Most of the active thyroid hormone, triiodothyronine (or T3), comes from the conversion of T4 to T3 in different areas of your body, including your liver, gut, brain and muscles.

This “active” T3 is then able to regulate many functions in your body including energy production and regulation of your metabolism. Think of the thyroid as the “gas pedal” for your body.  Constantly regulating the speed that everything else runs.  When all of the systems in your body are working well, the right amounts of T4 and T3 are produced. But if something is negatively affecting the thyroid or other organ systems in the body, this hormone balance gets disrupted and we start to experience various symptoms.

Some of the factors that impact a healthy functioning thyroid are nutritional imbalances, toxins, allergens, infections, and stress. All of these can all be problematic, leading to dysfunction of the gland, and potentially to wider spread systemic disease.

What happens when the thyroid can’t function normally?

When the thyroid is compromised, the body is unable to produce or convert the right amounts of thyroid hormone. Consequently, we experience disorders such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and thyroid cancer. In fact, these diseases are highly prevalent in North America.  An estimated 20 million Americans and 1 in every 10 Canadians have some form of thyroid disease.  Over 12% of all Americans will develop such a condition during their lifetime. Because thyroid conditions are tied to so many varying symptoms, up to 60% of people with disease are unaware of their condition.   Women are 5-8x more likely to be affected than men. It is estimated that one in eight women will suffer from such a disorder during her lifetime.

Thyroid disease is tied to many less obvious disorders including acne, autoimmune diseases, eczema, fibromyalgia, gum disease, constipation or irritable bowel syndrome, migraines and infertility. Because the thyroid is like your gas pedal for all of your cells, it can be linked to almost every bodily function.  Symptoms of an underlying thyroid problem are wide and varied which can make diagnosis difficult.  As a result, many people are misdiagnosed and treated for other conditions before looking at their thyroid.

Hypothyroidism

Symptoms of an underactive thyroid

  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Foggy thinking
  • Depression
  • Weight gain even if you’ve been exercising and eating well consistently
  • Persistently rough/scaly skin
  • Dry/tangled hair
  • Hair loss (particularly in women)
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • An inability to warm up in a sauna or to sweat during exercise
  • Consistently low basal (resting, first morning) body temperature

Hyperthyroidism

Symptoms of an overactive thyroid

  • Feeling restless, nervous, or emotional
  • Poor sleep quality or insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • The disappearance of or irregular menstruation
  • Weight loss
  • Rapid, forceful, or irregular heartbeat
  • Eye problems (associated with Graves’ disease)
  • Swelling in your neck or having a goitre

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition where your immune system is creating antibodies that are attacking your thyroid.  Over time, this autoimmune attack can damage the gland and cause it to cease working properly.  Autoimmune disorders are complicated, but they can be improved through natural medicine.  Factors like food sensitivities, latent infections, and adrenal fatigue all need to be considered to reverse Hashimoto’s.

Euthyroid Sick Syndrome

This is a condition where blood tests for the thyroid may show normal levels of TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone.  Yet, levels of T3 are low.  When T3 drops, your pituitary ought to respond by producing more TSH to stimulate more production of T4 and then conversion to T3.  Euthyroid refers to the fact that thyroid itself appears to be in working order as TSH is normal.  Treatment of Euthyroid Sick Syndrome often entails looking at the person as a whole and supporting the entire endocrine system as well as resolving stressors.

Thyroid Tests

Simple blood tests can identify a potential problem.  We prefer to do comprehensive thyroid blood work that includes TSH, free T3, free T4, anti-TPO (or anti-thyroperoxidase) and anti-thyroglobulin.  It’s a common misconception that if TSH is normal, then all of the remaining tests will also be normal.  This is not true.  I have reviewed hundreds, if not thousands, of thyroid test results and found that patients can have a normal level of TSH, and even normal levels of free T3 and free T4, but thyroid antibody levels are not normal.  If you suspect a problem, I would highly recommend having complete testing done.

Whether you have an obvious problem or not, it’s important to understand how the thyroid works so that you can keep your body functioning optimally.

Tips to Improve Thyroid Function

When it comes to managing the optimal function of your glands, the building blocks are almost always found in nutrition first and foremost.

6 Tips to maintain a healthy thyroid through diet

  1. Go gluten and dairy free: Most people go gluten and dairy free only when there is an obvious sensitivity like a gut problem to either type of food. Sensitivity to gluten and dairy can be much more subtle when it comes to the thyroid. These foods trigger inflammation, disordered immune system function and are associated with autoimmune thyroid issues.
  2. Focus on your iodine level: Iodine is present in almost every organ and tissue and has a direct effect on the thyroid. Iodine is just one of the most important nutrients for this gland.  Chemical agents in commercial food ingredients have the side effect of decreasing your iodine level. Daily exposure to chemicals found in water such as bromine, fluorine, and chlorine all negatively impact iodine levels by competing with iodine for absorption. You do not need to take iodine supplements, however, and too much iodine can also damage your thyroid.  Using a little bit of good iodized sea salt each day will meet your iodine needs.
  3. Look for “no bromine” or “bromine-free” labels on organic whole-grain bread and flours if you eat grains
  4. Increase your dietary intake of wild-caught seafood and ocean fish
  5. Seek out foods containing zinc and selenium: Zinc and selenium are two micronutrients that play critical roles in thyroid health. Because they can be toxic in very high doses, it’s best to achieve healthy levels through diet. Zinc-rich foods include oysters, beef, pork, egg yolks, shellfish and chicken while selenium-rich foods include Brazil nuts, fish, and liver.
  6. Manage stress: Stress and overall health are inextricably linked. Make sure you’re taking time to meditate, relieve stress, and get your mindset on track so that you can enjoy the benefits of overall health.

You can gain control over your health by learning how to manage and maintain your thyroid through nutrition, lifestyle, and naturopathic medicine support. If you’re dealing with, or suspect you have this or other health issues, please take time to book an appointment to visit us at our clinic. We want to help you take control of your health! Comprehensive testing and hormone assessments are available.

Call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Info@ForcesofNature.ca

To your best health!

The team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

References:
https://articles.mercola.com/thyroid.aspx
https://www.thyroid.org/media-main/about-hypothyroidism/
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Aug 25:jc20152222. Epub 2015 Aug 25. PMID: 26305620

8 Easy Ways to Up Your Energy

man who has low energy

Top Tips to Increase Your Energy

You know you’re having a great day when you feel good and you can easily accomplish the tasks at hand.

Do you bounce out of bed in the morning?  Sing in the shower? Do you need that extra cup of joe at 3 pm? Do you have the energy to play games with the kids after dinner?

Now, how often do you feel like that? More importantly, do you remember the last time you felt that way? It’s normal to have periods where life is so busy that our energy has to be directed to specific tasks, where we might feel overtaxed.  If you’ve been feeling lackluster for a long period of time and can’t seem to get out of that funk, it’s time to address your energy levels more proactively. Try exploring these tried and true tips for preserving and boosting your energy levels.

Breathe for Energy

While it is a common reaction to stress, shallow breathing prevents the body from receiving enough oxygen and that quickly depletes your body of energy. You may not even notice that your breathing has become quick or shallow until you’re already anxious and exhausted. The trick is to be mindful about your breathing every day so that you can recognize and respond appropriately when you need to.

One powerful and simple breathing technique we recommend is:

Sit down with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes, and press the tip of your tongue against the ridge behind your upper teeth. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a soft sighing sound. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven, and then exhale through your mouth for a count of eight.  Repeat for a total of four breaths. If you’re having trouble sleeping this breathing technique can also help you relax and fall asleep.

Short High-Intensity Exercise

Ideally, about a half hour of exercise, three times a week can help you increase your energy and motivation. The best kind of activity for revving up your energy is short bursts of high-intensity movement. You could take a HIIT class that focuses on interspersing bursts of cardio and strength training, do some jumping jacks beside your desk or you decide to get outside on your lunch break for a brisk walk, swinging your arms and moving vigorously. Bursts of exertion will help you rev up your engine and keep you going for the rest of the day. Extra points if these activities happen outside. You get additional energy boosting effects from being in nature and getting healthy doses of sunshine!  Exercise increases blood flow which will deliver more oxygen and nutrients to your body and your brain cells, giving you more energy.

Stay Hydrated

Your body is about 60% water so if you’re dehydrated your body won’t be able to function as well as it should. Headaches, lethargy, dry mouth, irritability, these are all signs that you need to hydrate. When your body is hydrated, your blood can more easily carry oxygen and nutrients to where they need to be and that results in an energy boost.

Increase Your B12

B-vitamins are also known as the “happy” and “energy” vitamins for their ability to convert dietary nutrients into chemicals that the body can use for energy. While your body needs a few different varieties of B vitamins, one that is especially tied to good energy is vitamin B12. Exhaustion, pallor, anemia, feeling low and tired can all be indicators of low levels of vitamin B12. B12 is primarily found in animal-based foods like meat, dairy, and eggs, but is also available in much smaller amounts in plant foods like mushrooms.  Be sure that you’re eating a diet rich in a wide variety of B12-rich foods! For those with severe B12 deficiency, vitamin B12 supplements are vital because if left uncorrected, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause permanent nerve damage.

Increase Blood Oxygen

Bet you didn’t realize that all of the previous four suggestions have one thing in common! They all positively affect your energy by pumping more oxygen into your body. Well-oxygenated blood feeds your body better, helps us think more clearly, and can greatly diminish fatigue and exhaustion. Want another way to help your body get the oxygen it needs? Add fresh plants to your home and office. Plants feed off of the carbon dioxide we exhale and replace it with fresh oxygen in the air. So, while you’re taking time to smell the flowers, take some time to sniff the plants as well. You just might find you’re breathing easier and feeling more lively too!

Consume More CoQ10

Coenzyme Q10 is a substance found in many foods, also known as ubiquinone, because it’s ubiquitous (found everywhere).  CoQ10 helps the energy-producing organelles called mitochondria in each of your cells to work normally. As we age, our mitochondria diminish in number and can be damaged by environmental pollutants.  Foods that are particularly rich in CoQ10 include organ meats like heart, liver and kidneys, as well as beef, sardines, and mackerel.

Avoid Common Food Sensitivities

If you’re waking up feeling exhausted every morning, despite getting at least 7-8 hours of solid sleep, it may be that your immune system is busy fighting your lunch or dinner from the day before.  Food sensitivities can be exhausting because your immune system is doing battle with food, just like it would be battling a virus or bacteria.  An elimination diet of some common food sensitivities like dairy and gluten may be warranted, especially if you are also suffering from digestive problems.

Identify Allergies

Sometimes the only symptom people have of a seasonal or environmental allergy is fatigue.  If other causes of fatigue have been ruled out and your tiredness happens to coincide with peak pollen seasons like spring and late summer, it may be a sign of seasonal allergies.

Serious Causes of Fatigue

There are a number of disease states that can present as low energy or fatigue.  Iron deficiency anemia, hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Lyme disease and even cancer can exhibit fatigue as a symptom.  If you are concerned, please see your doctor for appropriate testing and diagnosis of the cause of your fatigue.

Bonus Tip:

Ask your doctor to check your thyroid, iron and vitamin B12 levels through blood tests to rule out these common causes of fatigue.

Maintaining healthy energy levels can be challenging when you are faced with the stresses of everyday life, but these tips can help you rev up your engine and keep you humming a happy tune all day long. If you still find that your energy levels seem lower than usual, or you are having difficulty sustaining your energy levels over time, you may need a closer look at what is going on and we are here to help. Book an appointment to visit our clinic and let’s help you get back to your energetic self. Call us at 416-481-0222 or email Info@ForcesofNature.ca. 

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Chiropractic ~ Naturopathic ~ Osteopath ~ Massage Therapy ~ Registered Dietitian ~ Acupuncturist ~ Psychotherapist

References

Hernández-Camacho JD, Bernier M, López-Lluch G, Navas P. Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation in Aging and Disease. Front Physiol. 2018 Feb 5;9:44. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00044. eCollection 2018.

The Scoop on Good Fats and Bad Fats

pic of doughnuts showing bad fats with caption for the top 10 good fats

Do Fats Make You Fat?

If you are trying to lose weight and you believe that means that eating fats and oils is a no-no, you might be in for a surprise. Fat is a vital component of a balanced diet and is necessary for your body to function properly. Inflammation is often involved in preventing weight loss, and the right kinds of fat can help reduce inflammation.  Having said that, too much or the WRONG fats can be a problem. With all the information out there on diet, it’s important to understand not just fads, diets, and tips but the actual needs of your body.

Given how many “experts” purport the benefits of their approach and dismiss the science of others, it can be tricky to figure out which foods are best for our own needs. In fact, it can feel like there’s a new discovery about the best way to eat every week making us question if we’re ‘doing it right’!

Lately, it’s the popularity of the Paleo and Keto diets that has turned prevailing knowledge on its head, largely because of the emphasis these protocols place on eating significant quantities of healthy fats.

No matter what diet you follow, newer science is showing us that there are more benefits to eating higher quantities of healthy fats than we previously thought. In fact, research is showing that the body is built to use these as a major source of energy – some evidence even suggests that fat is a better energy source than carbohydrates! It’s a fact that fat is also vital to a wide variety of normal bodily functions.

What are the Different Types of Fats?

What does monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated mean when it comes to fats?  These terms refer to the molecular structure of the fat.  Fats are made up of long chains of carbon molecules connected to each other by bonds and also bound to hydrogen molecules.  These bonds can be either a single bond or a double bond.  Saturated fats contain only single bonds.  Monounsaturated fats, like oleic acid found in olive oil, contain only one double bond. Polyunsaturated fats, like linoleic acid found in sunflower oil, contain multiple double bonds.

Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA’s)

MUFA’s are liquid at room temperature.  Because of the double bond that they contain, they can be unstable and prone to oxidation.

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA’s)

PUFA’s are also liquid at room temperature and because they contain more than one double bond, can be highly unstable and even more prone to oxidation.  Oxidation creates “free radicals” that can cause damage to our bodies.   Oxygenated derivatives of linoleic acid, known as Oxlams, have been discovered and found to have potent inflammatory effects.  For this reason, it’s preferable to get PUF’A’s and MUFA’s from whole foods, rather than as processed oils.

Saturated

Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature.  They are more stable because they do not contain any double bonds and therefore are amongst the safest for cooking purposes.  Excessive intake of saturated fats can increase the amount of insulin your body produces, which would not be good.  While there is no need to avoid saturated fat altogether, it’s best not to overdo it either.

Trans

These are the least healthy form of fat.  Trans fats are those that are artificially produced through a process known as hydrogenation.  It is the process that turns a liquid oil into a solid, such as converting sunflower oil into margarine.  These create inflammation in your body, which is linked to heart disease, strokes, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.

Rancid

Rancidity refers to when a fat or oil has gone “bad”, meaning it has developed an unpleasant taste or smell.  When unsaturated fats become oxidized they generate peroxides.  The decomposition of peroxides is what causes the rancid taste or smell.  Rancid oils can create harmful free radicals in your body that can damage your cells.

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids are healthy fats that we have to get from our diet because our body can’t make them. These are also called Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.  The signs of an essential fatty acid deficiency include dry, scaly skin, skin rashes, hair loss and low platelet counts. In children and infants, a fatty acid deficiency can cause intellectual disability.  The Omega 6 fatty acids include linoleic acid, gamma-linolenic acid, dihomo gamma-linolenic acid and arachidonic acid. The Omega 3 fatty acids include α-Linolenic acid, Eicosatetraenoic acid, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Supplementation with essential fatty acids is used at our clinic for skin problems like eczema and psoriasis, allergies, mood disorders and inflammatory conditions like arthritis.

What do “Good” Fats Do?

Good fats:

Help to build a strong cell membrane or outer layer for each of your cells
Help to build healthy sheaths surrounding nerves
Assist in maintaining normal blood clotting
Aid in controlling inflammation
Are essential for absorbing certain vitamins such as A, D, E, and K, and minerals like calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, and zinc
Can promote weight-loss
Help encourage blood sugar stability
Are a key factor in achieving hormonal balance
Play a critical role in brain function, memory, and attention span
Have a direct impact on the quality of hair, skin, and nail growth
These reasons should be enough for all of us to realize how important it is to include these healthy nutrients in our nutrition plans!

But I thought fats were bad?

For a long time that was a common way of thinking. The reality is that the reason fats have been stigmatized was because our understanding of how they work was still developing and because we’d been eating too much of the wrong ones!

We understand now that not all fat sources are created equal – just like not all vegetables are equal (just compare iceberg lettuce with it’s dark, leafy counterparts, romaine, and spinach). There are different kinds of fats and to make understanding them easier, we like to think of them as being on a continuum. On one end of the continuum are good fats like MUFA’s and PUFA’s (when they are found in whole foods) and on the other end are bad ones like industrial-made trans fats in processed foods. Saturated fats fall somewhere in the middle.

So which fats should you be eating?

Start by choosing mostly fresh monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found naturally in whole foods, followed by a moderate amount of naturally present saturated fats from whole foods. Those of the trans variety should obviously be avoided – which will probably be easier than you think because they’re mostly present in treats and junk foods that you wouldn’t want to rely on anyway!

Recent studies on coconut oil have found it to be useful in the reduction of body fat in the belly as well as helping to reduce Body Mass index (BMI). Just like any other nutrient, consuming a variety of fat sources is key to finding balance in your nutrition. Not only because variety is important in any diet, but because different foods are more than just a kind of fat, they offer different beneficial vitamins, minerals, and fibre too!

10 Sources of Healthy Dietary Fats

  1. Avocado
  2. Cheese
  3. Dark Chocolate
  4. Whole Eggs
  5. Fatty Fish
  6. Raw Nuts
  7. Chia Seeds
  8. Fresh Cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  9. Coconut & Coconut Oil
  10. Full Fat Yogurt

We recommend adding fats to your diet slowly, especially if you’ve been avoiding them until now. Digesting anything well requires that the body has certain underlying requirements met including healthy gut flora and enzyme production. This is true in the case of fats as well. We’ve talked about gut flora at length in previous blog posts, but enzymes (like lipase, the enzyme that helps break down and digest fats) are also a vital part of healthy digestion – and are the subject for another time.

Are you eating right for your mind, hormone production, your metabolism? Get out of the “fat-free” cycle and into a healthier diet that includes good fats. We have tools to analyze your body’s nutrient needs and can help you experience optimal health every day through nutrition that’s ideal for you. Call us at 416-481-0222.

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic
References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19437058

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25636220

Gibson RA. Musings about the role dietary fats after 40 years of fatty acid research. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2018 Apr;131:1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2018.01.003. Epub 2018 Jan 6.

What’s the Best Detox for Your Body?

pic showing the best detox motivation

Is Your Body Overloaded with Toxins? What is the Best Detox Solution?

Your body is a miraculous thing. For all its parts and abilities there are corresponding systems designed to monitor what they’re experiencing.  Your body can decide whether what it is experiencing is beneficial or detrimental and then make appropriate adjustments to maintain balance.

You may mention your circulatory, digestive, endocrine, immune, integumentary, lymphatic, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, musculoskeletal, or urinary system in conversation when someone asks how you are.  Symptoms from these systems give us a sense of how well we are (or are not) at any given time.

What’s Happening When You’re Not Feeling Well?

When you’re unwell, understanding systemic symptoms can help you to determine where to look for the underlying issues. Skin breakouts, hair thinning or falling out, or nail splitting can be signs of poor digestive or liver health. Signs like feeling sluggish, heavy, uncomfortable, or constipated tell us that there’s something less than ideal going on in your body. It becomes important to look at the organs that support our body and keep them functioning optimally, especially when they’re showing us signs that all is not well.

Your organs help your body to maintain overall health, and of course organs like the heart, brain, and lungs are responsible for some of the most vital functions of life. Without them, well – we wouldn’t be here! But, your organs do other important jobs as well, such as neutralizing and eliminating toxins and irritants. The organs that help the most with these functions are the lungs, the skin, the digestive tract, and most importantly: the liver and the kidneys. When you start tracing symptoms to the organs that should help prevent them, you can start to make the connections to underlying organ weakness.

How Does Your Body Cope When Faced with Toxins?

The simple answer? Detoxification. One of the things your body is especially good at is sweeping out any toxic elements and chemicals that can compromise your health. That’s a big part of what your organs are designed to do.

However, not all toxins are equal and of course, there are many factors that can affect how the body responds to them at any given time. Also, toxins don’t come from only one source. In fact, the definition of a ‘toxin’ is surprisingly simple and broad: anything that the body doesn’t find useful or that harms its integrity is toxic to the body. The fact is, we’re combating toxins all the time.

The most common types of toxins we all encounter regularly come from poor diets, poorly digested, fermented food, medications, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, environmental toxins like air and water pollution, smoke, pesticides and herbicides. This toxic burden is an inescapable part of urban life, and we know it can sound pretty depressing!

When subjected to all of these forms of toxins at once – as most of us are – it’s easy to see how our bodies can become inundated with chemicals that need to be removed. It’s also easy to understand why, even though we might be doing everything we can to sustain a healthy lifestyle and keep our toxin-fighting organs in prime condition, our bodies sometimes need help in this respect.

How Do I Know if I’m Overloaded with Toxins?

As we said before: the body is constantly detoxifying – day in, day out, all day and all night! Our organs are designed to do just that to keep us healthy but who hasn’t been super stressed out and resorted to a poor diet or more frequent glasses of wine? Who hasn’t experienced an illness that compromised their health to the point where they just don’t seem to fully recover? These are just some instances when toxin overload may contribute to ill health.  Sometimes toxins that we experience daily become a combined, overwhelming force while at other times we experience a mix of toxins in particularly high doses. Ongoing situations like this can lead to chronic toxin overexposure and inadequate elimination.

Are you overloaded with toxins? Ask yourself these questions:  

  1. Do you have persistent brain-fog, lack of focus, mental clarity, or migraines?
  2. Do you have ongoing fatigue, muscle aches or pains, general lack of motivation or feelings of depression that just won’t go away?
  3. Have you noticed an increase in body odour, foul fecal odour, pungent or bad breath?
  4. Are you experiencing skin reactions or acne in ways you haven’t before?
  5. Have you recently become newly sensitive to chemicals, fragrances, or scents?
  6. Have you developed new allergies of any kind?
  7. Are your periods excessively heavy or painful?

These are just some of the common changes that you might notice and they’re some of the ways your body is trying to tell you that it’s overwhelmed with toxins.

Do Detox Diets Work?

A handful of clinical studies have shown that commercial detox diets enhance liver detoxification and eliminate persistent organic pollutants from the body. Better quality studies still need to be done, but from our clinical experience, we’ve seen numerous patients improve by assisting their bodies to remove toxins. Organic pollutants have been implicated in the development of inflammatory conditions, obesity and diabetes.

What is the Best Detox?

Some basics for the healthy ongoing elimination of toxins:

  1. Stay hydrated.  Water intake helps your body flush waste out through your kidneys.
  2. Increase your fibre intake.  Consuming lots of vegetables and legumes and moderate amounts of fruit help your body to excrete toxins through regular bowel movements.
  3. Lemon water.  Drinking a glass of lemon water first thing in the morning helps to get bile moving that carries waste out of your liver.
  4. Eat a healthy, whole foods diet including organic foods as much as possible to reduce your toxic burden.

Advanced liver detox techniques

Healthy liver detoxification requires specific vitamins and minerals to allow for efficient function of phase I and phase II liver detoxification.  These include indole-3-carbinol, vitamin B6, B12, magnesium, L-5MHTF and calcium-d-glucarate.  Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts help supply these nutrients.  Our naturopathic doctors can provide expert advice about dosing for these and other natural supplements for doing the best detox cleanse.

Accessory nutrients that are also needed for healthy liver detoxification include alpha lipoic acid, n-acetyl cysteine, Vitamins A, C and E, glutathione, selenium, glycine, taurine and glutamine.

When you’re experiencing symptoms that may be related to toxins, it’s the right time to visit our clinic for help. We can help reactivate your body’s natural defence mechanisms so that you can experience optimal health every day. Sometimes, our organs need extra help in their work combatting toxins. We have lots of solutions to help you ensure that toxins are kept at bay and that your organs are happy, healthy, and strong.

What About Those Detox Kits?

A detox kit would not be what we would recommend to support healthy liver detoxification.  Mainly these kits contain fibre supplements, laxative herbs and small doses of herbs like milk thistle and dandelion.  Fibre supplements and laxative herbs only make you poop more.  More frequent bowel movements do not mean more efficient liver function.  Milk thistle is useful for regenerating liver cells when your liver has been injured, think of conditions like cirrhosis or hepatitis.  Rebuilding your liver won’t hurt, and may help, but as a low dose ingredient in these kits, it’s not enough to accomplish much.  Dandelion is used to help your liver make more bile and empty that bile out of your gallbladder into your small intestine.  This helps to carry waste out of your liver.  But, in order for there to be waste to carry out, your liver has to break toxins down, that is where we want to support the liver in phase I and phase II liver detoxification so that you can carry waste out through bile.  If you have regular bowel movements, you are making and excreting bile.  Bile is part of the process that helps to keep bowels regular.

Looking for the best detox diet?

You can download a free 6-day meal plan by clicking here.

Call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Info@ForcesofNature.ca and we’ll be happy to have a detailed consultation with you to find the right pathway to your optimal health.

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Research

Klein AV, Kiat H. Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2015 Dec;28(6):675-86. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12286. Epub 2014 Dec 18.

How to Avoid Getting Sick While Travelling

tips on how to avoid getting sick while travelling, showing healthy fruit

“Every Time I Travel I Get Sick!”

How to Avoid Getting Sick on Your Vacation

By Dr. Pamela Frank. BSc, ND

As I’m leaving on Wednesday to somewhere warm, I’m thinking about keeping my son and I healthy while we’re away and how we can avoid getting sick.  With winter in full swing, our minds tend to wander to warmer climates and the opportunity to travel to them. While we often seek out sunny destinations for a brief reprieve during these colder months, if you’re one of those people who always gets sick when you travel then that can create a serious pause in the fun. While we look forward to being whisked away to somewhere new, we often forget that drastic shifts in climate can affect our immune systems.  New environments also hold a variety of unexpected or previously unencountered microbes, and experimenting with local cuisines can play roulette with our digestive systems.

In spite of all of this, we love to travel too! That’s why we’ve developed a list of the most important precautions to take prior to taking off for your next exotic destination so you can avoid getting sick and get the most out of your upcoming vacation!

Pre-Travel Vitamins

Taking a daily multivitamin to ensure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health is always a good idea, but it’s extra important when you’re preparing for a trip that could include flying and staying in various foreign accommodations. Be sure to include Zinc, B-complex, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D3 to strengthen your immune system and avoid getting sick before, during and after your trip.

Hydration

Making sure you’re well-hydrated is critical to prepare for your trip, as dehydration is a major factor in travel. Since travel often involves conditions such as traveling in dry, pressurized airplanes, being in hot or arid climates, or exerting more energy than usual; we need to ensure that our hydration levels are optimized to maintain healthy bodily functions. When the flight attendant asks for your beverage order take it as a signal to have a glass of water and avoid those dehydrating cups of coffee or glasses of wine. And – never be shy to ask for refills. If anyone knows in-flight dehydration, it’s the cabin crew!

Travel Supplements

It’s not just fun to experience new places, travel can be so exciting that it can send your body into high gear. Think for a moment about your last vacation. How many new situations, thrilling moments, and unexpected occurrences did you experience? While you worked through each of them, your body’s coping mechanisms were in full effect, helping you to experience joy, exhilaration, and stress – all heightened by brand new circumstances. When you consider it that way, it’s clear that everything including your digestive system, immunity, circadian rhythm, and even your adrenal glands are on active duty even though you are on vacation. Help your body to manage these ups and downs with these natural supplements to avoid getting sick:

Adaptogens

Taking an adaptogen like reishi, ashwagandha, and holy basil can help fight stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Begin taking your preferred adaptogen at least a week before you travel. Natural supplements take time to build in order to reach peak efficacy.

Antimicrobials

Antimicrobials are proven pathogen killers that can assist your digestive and immune systems in warding off new strains of bacteria to which your body might not be accustomed. Sometimes our best efforts to avoid foods like washed salads and raw vegetables that cause common stomach bugs still don’t keep us safe. In that case, it’s good to know you can start early and ward off traveler’s tummy and diarrhea with antimicrobials like oil of oregano, grapefruit seed extract and colloidal silver.

Melatonin

Melatonin helps your body rebalance its circadian rhythm, or find homeostasis in its wake and sleep cycle. This is the supplement of choice for fighting jet lag! Most melatonin supplements suggest taking the dose before going to bed in your new destination, and to do so for a couple of days until you feel you’ve adapted. Good sleep is so important to avoid getting sick!

Probiotics

Probiotics we talk about the benefits of these good bacteria often – and for good reasons! Keeping your gut flora nice and strong is of extra importance when traveling since there are many instances when you could encounter new or different foods and beverages. Even a seemingly innocent salad could harbor a surprise when eaten in a foreign land, since bacteria in water differs greatly around the world, as do food care standards! Help your gut to be as healthy as possible prior to and during your trip by supplementing with a great probiotic.

Ginger

Ginger is world renowned for easing nausea, stomach upset, indigestion, and even motion sickness. Sometimes there’s no need to try over-the-counter medications when a good natural supplement can also do an effective job. Keep some natural ginger chews with you at all times for when those unforeseen moments strike.

What to Put in a Travel First Aid Kit

A classic first aid kit is always welcome when going away. You can purchase a travel sized one at any pharmacy or make your own. We always include:

  • Adhesive bandages (multiple sizes) and tape
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (remember it has to be less than 100 ml if you take it in your carry-on)
  • Antiseptic wound cleanser (like alcohol or iodine pads, again less than 100 ml)
  • Blister pads or moleskin
  • Safety pins and scissors
  • Sterile gauze

Sunscreen

Whether you’re going surfing or snowboarding or something in between, you always need to protect your skin from sun exposure. The reflective glare from sea and snow can make your skin more prone to burns which not only make your trip less enjoyable but it can also be dangerous in the long run. Look for natural ingredients such as zinc oxide which is a mineral used to create a physical block from the sun. Additional ingredients such as vitamin E or C are also nice ways of giving your skin a nice boost of topical antioxidants. With sunscreen, it needs to be less than 100 ml if you are taking it in your carry-on luggage, otherwise, it will have to go in a checked bag.  

Sunstroke or Heat Stroke

Remember that prolonged exposure to high temperature can lead to heat stroke or sunstroke.   Avoid getting sick with heat stroke by limiting your time in the sun, particularly during peak hours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The symptoms of sunstroke include a throbbing headache, dizziness or light-headedness, a lack of sweating despite the heat, red, hot, and dry skin, muscle weakness or cramps, nausea and vomiting, rapid heartbeat, and rapid, shallow breathing.  Sunstroke is a medical emergency and you should call 911 if you suspect that you or someone you know has it. Meanwhile, cooling methods like cool clothes, cool bath or ice packs can help to restore normal body temperature while medical care arrives.

Prescriptions

If you’re taking any prescription medication, please be sure to have enough for the duration of your trip, plus a couple of extra doses, in case of unanticipated travel changes. Always make sure that your prescriptions are in labeled bottles and that you also have a doctor’s note if necessary, as some medications might not be universally understood or accepted in different countries. You might also consider bringing a valid prescription for a refill of your medication as a “just in case” measure.

Travel is exciting and has so many benefits from providing a well-deserved break from routine to exploring history and learning about different cultures to taking on new challenges and building new skills. We want you to get the very most out of your adventures, no matter how relaxed or extreme they might be.

If you’re traveling soon and want to review how to best prepare you and your family before heading away, please call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Info@ForcesofNature.ca and book an appointment. Together we can make sure that you’re ready for all the excitement that lies ahead in good health!

Here’s to your next adventure!

The Practice Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Research:

Palatty PL, Haniadka R, Valder B, Arora R, Baliga MS. Ginger in the prevention of nausea and vomiting: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(7):659-69. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.553751.

Acree M, Davis AM. Acute Diarrheal Infections in Adults. JAMA. 2017 Sep 12;318(10):957-958. doi: 10.1001/jama.2017.8485.

Lectins – Love Them or Leave Them?

lectins - are they bad for you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lectins – What are they and are they harming your health?

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

We’re all familiar with that schoolyard rhyme: “beans, beans, they’re good for your heart….” Have you ever wondered why foods like legumes are so tough to digest, creating a socially unacceptable end result?

Turns out that most of our foods contain certain compounds that, by nature, are difficult on our digestive systems – because they’re not really meant for our digestive systems at all! Now, that doesn’t mean we can’t tolerate them but more and more research is helping us learn the reasons why some foods can be tough to digest, and what the implications are of consuming them. In the case of beans and legumes, amongst other foods, the main culprit we’re learning more about is lectins.

What are Lectins?

Lectins are a kind of protein that’s found in a variety of plant- and animal-based foods. In fact, almost all plant and animal substances contain them in small amounts!

We know proteins are the building blocks of muscles and are critical to our health so the question for most of us is: if lectins are just proteins, how could they be bad for us?

Simply put, lectins bind cells together, and in particular, they bind to sugars. Their ability to lessen the body’s ability to properly absorb nutrients puts lectins in a special category known as ‘antinutrients’. Because we can’t digest lectins, they tend to pass through our systems unnoticed which, for most people, means antinutrients like lectins don’t pose much of a problem at all! In fact, in small amounts, lectins can have numerous health benefits. They’ve been shown to have an important role in immune function, cell growth, and might even be helpful in cancer therapy.

However, lectins can wreak havoc for people who consume a diet with lots of high lectin foods and for those who suffer from GI disorders like IBS, Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis or those with immune deficiencies. In more severe instances where GI disorders and immune dysfunction are at play, lectins can have quite a serious effect on the gut lining and tight junctions that keep the intestines functioning well. To read more about tight junctions,check out our article about Leaky Gut Syndrome here. 

If they’re not meant to be digested, what purpose do lectins serve?

Lectins have a distinct and important purpose in nature – it’s just that the purpose is for the organism’s survival, and not for human consumption! The most important function lectins have in the plant world is to act as a natural insecticide, protecting plants, grains, and legumes from natural predators. And they’re great at it too! When predatory insects come in contact with them, the lectins completely disrupt insect metabolism, preventing invasions and attacks on the plants. As part of a plant’s defense mechanisms, lectins are a natural way to strengthen crops against common pests!

What Symptoms do Lectins Cause?

To update that schoolyard rhyme: the more lectins you consume the more discomfort, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, and importantly, malabsorption of nutrients you might experience.

If these sound like familiar symptoms, that could be because the 30% of foods that have high levels of lectins are ones we commonly eat such as dairy, nightshades (like tomatoes and peppers), whole grains, seeds, GMO foods, and yes – beans and legumes!

Some experts have suggested that removing all lectins from your diet can help the gut to recover from antinutrient-caused distress and that this could be critical to treating GI and immune disorders. Still, many others have pointed to the various preparation techniques that people have used around the globe to help weaken and eliminate lectin proteins, making these staple foods much easier to enjoy!

We caution against removing whole categories of foods unless truly necessary, especially because foods high in lectins also have other essential benefits such as fibre and minerals, that our bodies need. Instead, we want to provide you with a variety of methods you can use to prepare high lectins foods that are centuries old, and globally trusted to make these foods easier to digest.

How Can You De-activate Lectins for Better Digestion?

These are our favourite four ways of preparing legumes, grains, and seeds so you can keep them in your diet without worrying about the negative effects of lectin protein. Prepare them mindfully, and with the help of a few tried and true techniques to get the most out of them:

Soak Your Legumes and Grains

Beans (canned or dried) in particular benefit from soaking, as do many harder grains and pseudo-grains like oats, rye, barley, wheat, and quinoa. Soaking and rinsing legumes and grains help to shake free starches, acids, and proteins, making minerals more bioavailable as well as making them easier to digest. Put yours in a larger bowl and cover with water by about 2 inches. Allow them to soak for a few hours up to overnight. Drain fully and rinse again until the water runs clear. As an extra tip: we like to add a 1” piece of kombu or dulse seaweed to the water when soaking beans – it further helps to break down lectins and make beans easier to digest!

Sprout Beans and Seeds

For most beans and seeds sprouting deactivates lectins completely. Why? Because you’re no longer eating them in their contained form. Rather, since they’ve begun the initial stages of germination, they’ve evolved from that seed state. The nutrients are even more available when you sprout, and it’s a lot of fun for the family when you have a hand in ‘growing’ your own food.  Sprouting them is super simple.  Put a layer of your beans and seeds for sprouting in a mason jar.  Rinse them with water, pour off the water and let them sit on your counter.  Rinse them and drain every day until they sprout.  They make a delicious crunchy topping for salads.

This works for almost all legumes except for alfalfa in which, interestingly, lectins increase when sprouted!

Boil or Pressure Cook Legumes or Grains

It seems obvious that if you were going to eat legumes or grains that you would boil or pressure cook them first – but these techniques actually have many benefits and ridding beans of lectins is one of them. Studies show that boiling soybeans, red beans, and many others at 212°F/ 100°C for a minimum of 10 minutes reduces lectins to negligible amounts.

Ferment Beans and Grains

Fermenting foods is the act of allowing good bacteria to grow in the food. The new good bacteria break down and convert would-be harmful proteins including lectins. This is an ancient and common approach across many cultures to consuming foods that are otherwise difficult to digest. In fact, fermented foods are great for you for many reasons because that good bacteria is also known as probiotics – one of the most important factors in overall gut health. Just think of tofu, tempeh, miso, kefir, and natto as great examples of fermented foods that would contain high levels of lectins prior to fermentation and you can see why this technique is so far-reaching!

At Forces of Nature, we want to see you and your family on a path towards your optimal health, and we have the tools to help make that journey clearer and easier. If you’re curious to learn more about how reducing or removing lectins from your diet could be beneficial to you, please call or email us at 416-481-0222 or Info@ForcesofNature.ca and Dr. Vong, Dr. Frank or registered dietitian Sanaz Baradaran will be happy to have a detailed consultation with you.


Yours in good health,

The Team at Forces of nature

References:

Rhodes, Jonathan M. Genetically modified foods and the Pusztai affair. BMJ. 1999 May 8; 318(7193): 1284.

Miyake K, Tanaka T, McNeil PL, 2007 Lectin-Based Food Poisoning: A New Mechanism of Protein Toxicity. PLoS ONE 2(8): e687. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000687

DeMarco, Vincent G., et al. Glutamine and Barrier Function in Cultured Caco-2 Epithelial Cell Monolayers. J. Nutr. July 1, 2003 vol. 133 no. 7 2176-2179.

http://gundrymd.com/remove-lectins/

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/lectins-phytates-autoimmune-disease-separating-fact-fiction

Best Dry Skin

woman wondering about best dry skin treatments

The Best Dry Skin Natural Remedies

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), Naturopathic Doctor

Beautiful, healthy, glowing skin on your face and body – is there anyone who doesn’t want that? A balanced complexion isn’t just beautiful, it can also signify the state of your health, youthfulness, even your happiness or stress level. Of course, these messages are happening on a subconscious level, but they are so pervasively accepted, that taking care of your skin is a drive that has become a billion dollar industry – all working from the outside in, and not usually working as well as we are lead to believe.

Achieving truly healthy skin isn’t as simple as buying expensive, chemical-filled creams and committing to invasive procedures. In fact, the key to getting what you want on the outside isn’t on the outside at all! Getting the healthy happy skin you’ve always wanted starts by focusing on the inside out!

Our skin is our largest organ and its health is threatened all the time. Between exposure to the elements, stress, pollution, poor nutrition, dry air and of course, natural aging, our skin is constantly fighting for its health.

So how can we maintain healthy, glowing skin when the odds are stacked against us? By giving our skin the nourishment, attention and care it so rightly deserves.

5 of the Best Dry Skin Remedies for Healthier Skin Everywhere

Reduce inflammatory foods

Inflammation isn’t just the root of disease, it can also be the root of many skin ailments including acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Just as reducing inflammatory foods can positively affect your other systems, the effect of reducing inflammatory foods can be read on the surface of your skin! Try removing common inflammatory foods for at least 4 weeks to start to see an improvement in your skin’s health.

Remove these Inflammatory Foods (that make skin dry and flaky)

Best Dry Skin Foods that Fight Inflammation (to reduce skin redness and dryness)

Gluten

Wheat products

Dairy (particularly cow’s milk and cheeses)

Refined sugar

Processed foods and beverages

‘Junk’ food

‘Fast’ food

Dark, leafy greens

Tomatoes

Berries

Fatty fish

Olive, avocado, and coconut oil

Green Tea

Water

Probiotics

Increase your water intake

We know that water is essential to helping our bodies function best, but did you know that it is the best way to ensure that nutrients are delivered effectively, and toxins are flushed out? Especially if you’re experiencing dry skin conditions, it’s important to make sure that you’re helping your body to rid itself of toxic residues and inflammatory chemicals that could be causing these symptoms.

Start your day with a glass of water first thing and make sure that you’re getting enough hydration every day by eating and drinking adequate amounts.  Remember that there’s water present in everything you eat and drink, especially if you’re juicing or consuming lots of fruit and veggies.  Drink water whenever you feel a thirst coming on. In spite of the classic “Drink 8, 8-ounce glasses” per day advice, there’s really no magic amount of water everyone needs to consume per day to stay hydrated. But, new research suggests that women could safely consume a total of approximately 2.7 litres (91 ounces) of water from all beverages and foods each day and that men could safely drink about 3.7 litres (125 ounces) daily. 

Collagen

Collagen is what gives your skin support and firmness, and most of us are deficient in collagen! Daily collagen consumption will help to maintain internal collagen levels. Try bone broth soup made with a high collagen base like chicken feet, or add some hydrolyzed collagen powder in your smoothie!  Increasing your intake of vitamin C can help your body to make more collagen.

Hyaluronic Acid

As much as we can influence our skin health from the inside out, you can – and you should – also take care of your largest organ from the outside in too. That way you can meet in the middle, so to speak. Hyaluronic acid is an incredible hydrophilic (water-loving) chemical that is found naturally in our bodies, particularly in our eyes and joints. Its moisturizing, hydrating properties are why it’s so often used to treat arthritis, cataracts, and even dry eyes. Because of this, hyaluronic acid is also one of the best dry skin treatments. Here’s why:

As we age, our skin’s ability to preserve moisture slows down, and we start to lose firmness, elasticity, and fullness. Hyaluronic acid has an incredible ability to replenish the moisture we lose, helping skin to look and feel softer, smoother, and glowy because of is super hydration effects.

Because it’s one of the most studied and best dry skin ingredients, you can find many topical skin care products and anti-aging treatments that feature hyaluronic acid. Along with wearing a suitable SPF, topical hyaluronic acid is a fantastic way to heal your skin from the outside in while you increase your glowing health from the inside out.

Coconut Oil

Plain old coconut oil is one of our favourite moisturisers to reduce inflammation and help your skin retain moisture.  Plus it’s edible so you’re not introducing anything toxic into your system.

The Best Natural Skin Care Products

While it’s important to have a good skincare regimen, it’s also important to know what’s in the products you put on your face. Seek out quality ingredients that will enhance your health and not add a toxic burden to your system. We like organic skin care lines like Ilya, Eminence, and natural Canadian skincare brands like Buck Naked, and Living Libations. There are lots of good natural care products for your skin, please choose wisely. The Environmental Working Group website is a good resource for researching ingredients and their safety or toxicity.

Now that you’re ready to take care of your largest organ from the inside out and the outside in, there’s one more thing – and that’s enjoying the self-care process of maintaining beautiful, healthy skin! After all, skin care should be pampering as well as effective. Here’s one of our favourite DIY masks to help you on your journey to your most healthy skin:

Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-acne Mask to soothe redness and calm reactive skin:

1/4 cup whole grain oats

2 tablespoons warm water

1 teaspoon honey

Pinch ground turmeric

Blend together in a blender and spread on cleansed skin.  Leave on for 15-20 mins rinse off with warm and then cool water followed by a natural lotion or pure coconut oil.

To your good health,

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Do you have a Leaky Gut?

woman suffering from leaky gut syndrome

What is Leaky Gut?  What Causes It and What Can You Do About It?

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), Naturopathic Doctor

If you’ve been searching for the root of on-going health issues that just won’t go away, the kind where your doctor – and maybe even your second and third doctor – have tried everything in their arsenals but have come up with only prescriptions that ease symptoms but don’t solve the underlying problem, it’s easy to feel discouraged.

However, if you’ve been keeping up with some of our previous blog posts, you’ve started to realize just how important our digestive system and gut health are to our overall health. In fact, you might be wondering if the root cause of the ‘mysterious illnesses’ from which you or your family have been suffering could actually reside in the gut – and you could very well be right.

From hormone regulation to immunity to enzyme production that keeps the rest of our body in tip-top shape, we keep learning more about how critical gut health is to maintaining overall vitality. One condition we are starting to learn more about, and see a prevalence of, is Leaky Gut Syndrome.

What is Leaky Gut?

Leaky Gut is a condition that is linked to dozens of illnesses. Because Western medicine hasn’t yet learned enough about the gut to fully understand the immense and overarching influence it has on overall health, there are no conventionally recognized methods of diagnosing and treating Leaky Gut syndrome. Understandably, doctors try to resolve the more commonly recognized associated issues a sufferer might be experiencing (see below), without actually addressing Leaky Gut itself. Unfortunately, that often creates a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario, in which doctors treat complaints, but without knowing which illness is the root cause and which is the symptom.

Do you wonder if Leaky Gut might be affecting you? Or whether you should be concerned?

Leaky Gut is often called a ‘phenomenon’ because it covers issues that stem from immunity, gut function, and the effect of modern diets and lifestyles on both of these systems.

In fact, in Canada alone, more than 20 million people suffer from digestive disorders – and that doesn’t cover half of the symptoms associated with Leaky Gut! Because of this, it’s important to understand the broad-reaching effects that the Standard American Diet, chronically high-stress levels, toxin overload, and even bacterial imbalances can have on gut function – and that managing these four elements are the basis of healing your gut.

What symptoms are the symptoms of Leaky Gut?

  • Consistent gastrointestinal issues like bloating, gas, cramps
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • New food sensitivities
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis

What is going on in a Leaky Gut?

While symptoms of Leaky Gut are broad and varied, they all have a common theme: that they occur from malfunctions of intestinal ‘tight junctions’ (TJs) in the small intestine.

Tight Junctions have one, very important job: to act as a barrier that selectively allows some particles – like vital nutrients – to pass through the intestines to the bloodstream and to make sure that other disease-causing particles – called xenobiotics – do not. Think about TJ’s as preventing holes in the intestine so there is no leaking of bad particles into your bloodstream!

When the TJs are in optimal condition, you and your gut can be in optimal health! When they are malfunctioning, creating intestinal hyperpermeability (holes), your body will respond with acute inflammation. If left untreated, this acute inflammation becomes chronic inflammation – the underlying cause of the majority of disease.

Diseases associated with a Leaky Gut

Diseases that have been associated with intestinal hyperpermeability are many, some of the most recognized include:

  • Bowel issues including gastric ulcers, infectious diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and diseases like Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis
  • Celiac disease and other allergies
  • Acute inflammation conditions
  • Arthritis and chronic inflammatory conditions
  • Obesity and related metabolic diseases like fatty liver, Type I and Type II diabetes, and heart disease
  • Autoimmune disease including lupus, multiple sclerosis, and Type I diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

While the concept of ‘intestinal permeability’ has been a conversation in the medical world for over 100 years, the symptoms of Leaky Gut are not unique to the syndrome and are shared with many other possible causes. So, many people’s symptoms go untreated by conventional doctors for months or even years. It’s understandably frustrating and disheartening when doctors are unable to help – both from their perspective as well as from the sufferer!

That’s why working with an integrative health team – one that partners your Western GP or gastroenterologist with naturopathic doctors – can be the most valuable step in taking the time and effort to properly investigate your symptoms.

How Can You Help a Leaky Gut?

Our naturopathic doctors can provide testing for Leaky Gut syndrome (zonulin testing) that can assist your whole health team in creating a holistic plan to get you back to optimal health.

Whether you suffer from Leaky Gut or want to protect yourself and your family from the possibility of it, you can get started by working on the four most important factors that contribute to Leaky Gut:

  1. Remove inflammatory foods and gut-damaging toxins

Common culprits of inflammation and toxins include grains, gluten, sugar, antibiotics, conventional cow milk or dairy products, GMOs, pesticides, and processed foods. Start by eliminating these from your diet and see how much relief you feel

  1. Add gut-healing foods

We’ve talked about prebiotics and probiotics before, but adding other nourishing foods like bone broth, simply steamed vegetables, fermented foods, raw cultured dairy, hormone-free and antibiotic-free animal products, and healthy fats

  1. Reduce stress

We can’t stress this enough! We live with so many competing priorities that we often don’t detect how stress is affecting us until it’s too late. Take time to turn off your brain, and tune into yourself with quiet time, sunny vitamin D filled walks, meditation, or yoga.

  1. Add gut-supporting supplements

Your naturopathic doctor is the best person to consult on the type and amount of supplements that would be best for you. Book an appointment to ask us about L-glutamine, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and plant-derived mineral supplements, all of which can contribute to establishing and maintaining a happy gut!

Yours in good health,

The Team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic

Sources:

Li X, Atkinson MA. The role for gut permeability in the pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes–a solid or leaky concept? Pediatr Diabetes. 2015 Nov;16(7):485-92. doi: 10.1111/pedi.12305. Epub 2015 Aug 13.

Gluten Free

picture saying get tested for gluten sensitivity before gluten-free diets

The Goods on Gluten-Free – Should You Try It?

One of the most talked about nutrition topics of the past couple of years has been whether or not gluten should have a place – or be forbidden – in our diets. Until recently, even the word ‘gluten’ would have been used almost exclusively in culinary, confectionary, and severe allergy professions alone. But, due to the recent increase in our understanding of gluten, its properties and health effects, the idea of going gluten-free has gained major popularity.  As an understandable result, this has left many people wondering whether or not gluten-free is the way to go in their own lives.

If you’ve been curious about going gluten-free, or if you’ve already experimented with gluten-free living, it’s important to have a good understanding of the basics so you can make informed decisions about the nutrition you and your family access.

What is gluten anyway?

Gluten is the name of a family of proteins found in wheat and wheat-related grains. Gluten itself is what enables foods made of grain flour ingredients to hold their shape. They act almost like ‘glue’ to give these foods texture and hold it together. It can be found in many foods, even where you might not expect it.

There are six big grains that are known as ‘glutinous grains.’ These include:

  1. Wheat (including wheat berries, durum, emmer, semolina, farina, farro, graham, and einkorn)
  2. Barley
  3. Rye
  4. Spelt
  5. Kamut
  6. Triticale

Things like bread and crackers, pastries, pasta, cereals, beer, soups and sauces (which could contain grains or flours as thickeners), brewer’s yeast, and food colouring are some foods and beverages that contain these grains and therefore naturally contain gluten.  Sometimes, gluten is also used in other foods to act as a binding agent to give texture and structure to other products.

Are most people allergic to gluten?

You may have heard that most people cannot tolerate gluten, or that grains today are different than the grains our ancestors used to eat. However, many studies have shown that in fact, grains and gluten are well-tolerated by the majority of people. That being said, there are three key groups of people who greatly benefit from removing gluten from their diets.

Celiac Disease Sufferers

Celiac disease, suffered by 1% of people, is a condition of the immune system in which eating gluten triggers an intestine-damaging response. Symptoms of celiac disease are serious and uncomfortable and include abdominal pain, skin rashes, headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, and even unexplained weight loss. In cases of celiac disease, it’s imperative for the individual to remove all sources of gluten from their diets.  Also, people with Celiac disease should remove gluten in the form of personal care items.  Some unlikely sources of gluten can include lipsticks and balms, body and hand creams, and cosmetics which could introduce trace amounts of gluten that would trigger a reaction.

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity or Gluten Intolerance

While celiac disease is rare, the percent of people who suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity is unknown and triggers similar symptoms.  The most reliable method to assess for non-celiac gluten sensitivity or intolerance is through blood testing for IgG antibodies to gluten.

Those with Other Gut Disorders

There’s still a third group of people who also benefit from removing gluten – those who suffer from other gut-related illnesses such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis and who require a FODMAP diet. FODMAPs are a group of small carbohydrate molecules found in all kinds of foods. While they are extremely common, they may be poorly absorbed in the small intestine of some people with already compromised digestive functions. Taking out glutinous foods is a key way to relieve one of the strains on a weakened digestive system because it naturally removes the FODMAPs that cause them to begin with.

Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance or Sensitivity

If you experience any of the following symptoms, particularly after eating something that contains gluten, you may have a gluten intolerance:

  1. Bloating
  2. Gassiness
  3. Burping/belching
  4. Constipation
  5. Diarrhea
  6. Nausea
  7. Heartburn or Acid Reflux
  8. Fatigue
  9. Headache
  10. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Colitis, Crohn’s)
  11. Autoimmune disorders
  12. Recurring infections

What do I need to know to go gluten-free?

Whole grains do contain a number of important nutrients, such as fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, folate, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B12, and vitamin D, and some protein. So when deciding to remove gluten-containing whole grains from your diet, be sure create a robust diet that can replace these, and/or take supplements to ensure that you don’t develop a deficiency.

Know too, that many gluten-free substitutes like cookies, brownies, and bread usually contain higher levels of fats, sugar, and salt than their conventional counterparts. If you crave the comfort of baked goods or cereals, we recommend creating your own gluten-free versions at home with almond flour or coconut flour for the healthiest alternative.

Also, if you intend to be tested at some point for gluten allergy or sensitivity, you need to be currently eating gluten to be accurately tested.  If you go gluten-free and feel fantastic, you may be reluctant to go back to eating gluten in order to get tested properly.

Foods that Contain Gluten

Aside from foods made from rye, wheat, spelt, kamut, barley and triticale, there are a number of other foods where you may unintentionally encounter gluten.  Watch out for soy sauce, imitation crab meat, soups, stews, sauces, sushi, Chinese food, breaded foods, bread, cookies, cakes, muffins, crackers, buns, crusts, pancakes, ice cream (think cookie dough!), desserts and many other flour containing products.  If you are serious about being gluten-free, you really have to read labels or prepare your own food.

Going gluten-free will take time, patience, and practice – we know, because we’ve helped dozens of families do it with success! Sometimes you don’t even realize how much gluten is affecting your system until you eliminate it. Check our Facebook page where we feature monthly gluten free recipes and you’ll find a few tried and true favourites to get you going.  There are also lots of gluten-free recipes on our website here.

If you suffer from symptoms such as constant stomach pain, headaches, bowel issues or other symptoms that could be related to gluten sensitivity, please book an appointment so we can properly test you for celiac disease. We want to make sure you’re living your healthiest life possible! If not, but you’d still like to explore the health benefits of removing gluten, we’d love to help you make a plan to get your health back on track by managing your gut health.

For more advice on going gluten-free, optimizing your diet or checking for food sensitivities like gluten, see one of our naturopathic doctors.   Book an appointment here or call us at 416-481-0222.

To your good health,

The team at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic